Life Scout Bryce Chatham’s original Eagle Scout project idea of planting trees for his town on Earth Day got derailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was trying to think what ideas would work best,” says the 16-year-old of Troop 286 in Tonawanda, N.Y.
His Scoutmaster suggested he do something for Bornhava, an early childhood center for children with developmental disabilities. Bryce decided to organize a spring cleanup at the facility.
When the day came, more than 80 volunteers showed up, including Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips.
Phillips, who is entering his fourth season in the NFL, has a heart for Scouting. His father is an Eagle Scout, and he was a Cub Scout for a couple of years before his focus turned to sports. He also has a heart for service.
Phillips serves with Playmakers, which hosts inclusive football camps for at-risk kids and kids with special needs. Many from Bornhava have attended Playmakers camps, so when a Bornhava employee reached out asking him to help with an Eagle Scout project there, he jumped right in — as did many people from the community.
“It was remarkable,” Phillips says. “Those people were there because a Scout planned it. It’s great to see what one person can really do.”
Scouting in action
With more than 80 volunteers showing up at one workday, Bryce had to use some serious organizational skills. As a leader in Troop 286, he was prepared with those skills.
“To manage it, I made a chain of leadership,” Bryce says. “I assigned an adult or Scout to manage part of the team, and then they’d report to me.”
That’s a method mirrored in Scouting. Large group of people? Organize them into “patrols.”
The small teams tackled certain tasks: yard work, mulching, cleaning playground equipment, fixing gates and a mailbox, and refurbishing a gazebo.
“There were multiple safety hazards that were fixed,” Bryce says. “I went above to make sure the kids got what they deserved.”
While most of the work was done in one day, more than 250 volunteer hours went into the Eagle Scout project.
“It was an incredible day — lots of smiles,” Phillips says.